NBC Investigative Reporter On Cyber Threats To Banks

Friday, 1 Dec 2006 | 9:13 AM ET

U.S. Homeland Security warned a number of banking and trading Web sites Thursday-- of a possible terrorist cyber threat. A jihadi Web site – though not associated with al-Qaeda – called for attacks on the financial industry in response to abuses at the U.S.’s holding facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The government said there is no proof of any immediate threat.

NBC News investigative producer Bob Windrem appeared on “Squawk Box” to talk about it. He says Homeland Security considered it such a low-level threat that it didn’t even produce an intelligence report – because there’s no intelligence to qualify it. Some – not all – financial institutions were alerted out of an “abundance of caution.”

Cyber Terror Threat
U.S. stock trading and banking Web sites are targets of a terrorist cyber threat. Alan Murray, Wall St. Journal Asst. Managing Ed.; Bob Windrem, NBC News Investigative Producer; and CNBC's Carl Quintanilla discuss the threat.

Alan Murray – assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal– was on as well. According to him – the U.S. financial sector is one of the better-protected areas of the economy. Banks have spent a good portion of time securing their networks long before al-Qaeda was a threat. Their internal defenses are strong by this point. He says that if a terrorist group wanted to disrupt American society in some way – there are easier ways to do it.

Windrem says the threat is only noteworthy because for the past five to 10 years al-Qaeda has focused more and more on interfering with the U.S. financial world. Osama bin Laden thought that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were the reason for the following recession. As a result – the focus on banks.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., was a part of the panel on “Squawk Box” today. He said that while security officials called the plans “aspirational” – it was important to remember the words of the 9/11 Commission: We failed because our imagination did not match that of the terrorists.


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